Knowledge is power (a.k.a. all about SPF)

The topic about sun protection is close to my heart since I inherited a skin with many birthmarks that I always need to keep an eye out for. I also didn’t pay much attention to my skin in my early 20’s and I’m trying to be better about it now.

Before we start looking at different products that can help you with keeping your skin safe, let’s start with some basics. Sunscreen helps prevent the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays to penetrate the skin. UVA and UVB rays (which sunscreens protect from) cause wrinkling and sagging of the skin and are one of the primary culprits for skin cancer. So, in short, it’s not a joke.

Wondering what SPF (sun protection factor) to use? Here’s how to interpret the numbers. First, we are talking about the length of time that the SPF will work for. If it takes your skin 20 minutes to get red, then SPF15 will prolong that times 15, so for almost 5 hours. But I don’t really find this as important, since we should be reapplying sunscreen much more often than that. In fact, it’s recommended that we reapply it every two hours and every time we do things that can get rid of the sunscreen we put on our body (going swimming, drying with a towel, sweating etc.). Many make-up products do have some SPF in it, but remember that it’s really not enough to keep your face safe!

The second way to read SPF is by looking at the amount of the UV rays that can still penetrate the skin. SPF 15 filters out 93 % of all UVB rays, SPF 30 97 % and SPF 50 98 %. I have a hard time understanding why sunscreens with higher SPF are more expensive – can anyone offer any insight?

Remember that you should be using plenty of sunscreen to really apply it well. Experts say that on average, a person should use about a shot glass worth of sunscreen every time we apply it and warn that most people use only a quarter of the amount. It’s really not a good way to save a few cents, now is it?

And how to know what kind of UV index you’re dealing with? You can always check it online (by searching of “UV index your country“) for the next day. The photo below shows us the UV index for Slovenia yesterday at midday. It was sunny in Ljubljana so the UV index was 9. If it would be partly cloudy the UV index would amount to 8, mostly cloudy 6.5 and completely covered 3.5.

And what do these numbers mean?

UV 1-2 poses no danger to an average person. Sunburn time is 1+ hour. Wearing sunglasses is enough.

UV 3-5 poses little risk from unprotected exposure. Sunburn time is 40 minutes. You should add SPF 15+ to your sunglasses or hat.

UV 6-7 means high risk. Sunburn time is 30 minutes. Besides sunglasses and a hat, use SPF 30+ sunscreen, cover the body with clothing and avoid direct sunlight.

UV 8-10 poses very high risk. Sunburn time is 20 minutes. The precautions are the same as for UV 6-7.

UV 11+ poses extreme risk to your health from unprotected sun exposure. It is advised to stay indoors. The burn time is less than 15 minutes.

And now that we’ve all learned something new or remembered what we already knew, let’s see what I’m bringing to the beach this year. This time, I only included body sunscreen products, since I’m still looking for a new face sunscreen – if you have any good recommendations, leave them down below in the comments, please! But so far, this is what I’ve bought for the upcoming sunny days.

I already wrote a long post about the new Nivea line Protect & Refresh (*click*). Besides the lotion with SPF20 that Nivea kindly sent to me, I also purchased one with SPF50 and two of the sprays with SPF20.

These will be perfect for hubby who hates the feeling of lotion on his body. Basically, I stocked up on this line since I’m really a fan of the cooling effect.

Next, I also bought the Garnier Ambre Solaire Golden Protect protective oil. This supposedly has an SPF20, but I tend to use oils over my normal sunscreen, not instead of it. Somehow, I feel like the oil doesn’t really offer much protection. Side note: this oil smells amazing!

I’m still on the hunt to get Baby M some really good natural sunscreen, but just to be on the safe side, I bought some Sun Dance products for him. I read really good reviews of these online, so we’ll see how it goes. Since he’ll only be 3-6 months old this summer, he will be spending his days in the shade, but I want him to be safe nonetheless. I’ve seen my niece get sunburn while she was lying in her stroller during a nice morning walk, so better safe than sorry, right? Naturally, all of his sunscreen is SPF50.

I urge you to be careful and protect your skin against the harsh UV rays and the negative impact of sun. We all need some time in the sun to get the vitamin D, but if you want a tan, I’d still suggest a “fake bake” using a self-tanning cream or getting a spray tan a couple of days before you hit the beach!

Until next time, stay beautiful!